June 11th, 2008


Political Tools: a Response

This was originally a response to a comment in a previous post. At the suggestion of several people, I'm expanding it to a full post.

I have heard from several sources -- including hitchkitty's Congressman -- a reluctance to use impeachment as a "political tool" -- by which they mean a partisan tool, a means of vindictive retribution against the opposition.*

That boat sailed ten years ago, dear reader.

After achieving control of the House for the first time in forty years, and spending more than half of that time seething bitterly over the resignation and disgrace of Richard Milhouse Nixon, the "Grand Old Party" immediately turned their vindictive pettiness on the current Democratic President. Four years of a concerted witch hunt over matters long preceding Mr. Clinton's term in the White House followed. In the end, the most vicious, ruthless, take-no-prisoners political minds in this nation could find nothing more compromising than a hesitation to be entirely candid about a sexual indiscretion that had nothing to do with the original investigation.

And now, we have reached a point where this single, frivolous impeachment has so compromised the validity of the process that there is reluctance to invoke it in a clear-cut case of multiple offenses against the laws and the Constitution of the United States.

If the highest officials in the land cannot be held accountable for their actions using the legal framework set in place for exactly that, then they are, in fact, above the law, and the pretense of Democracy in the United States is a shadow play.

Other questions have been raised in regard to the timing, so close to being rid of the Current Occupant through the normal order of things. But consider this: Mr. Bush has 224 days left in office. If memory serves, they impeached Mr. Clinton in 181 days.

Even if this action does not get him removed from office, even the first phase -- getting the Congress to confirm that, yes, at least some of these offenses listed are, indeed, "an impeachable offense, warranting the removal from office" -- is important.

It is a valuable precursor for bringing the criminal charges these actions so richly deserve, be it in a United States court, or, if I may engage in a wishful fantasy of our country ever seeing fit to grow up and join the community of civilized nations, in the International Criminal Court.

Even if it amounts to no more than a symbolic gesture, we have to make it clear, to ourselves, to the rest of the world, to posterity -- and above all, to the power-hungry motherless savages, past and future, who seek to wring the public coffers dry to polish their own tick-bloated egos -- that sacrificing all that is right and good about the American experiment for any cause is simply not acceptable.

For more than a decade, we blockaded and starved the people of Iraq, because of their stubborn refusal to rise up against a leader who initiated a war of aggression, detained citizens and foreign nationals without due process of law, and maintaining and practicing tortue as a matter of official policy.

How can we not hold ourselves to the same standards?

*hitchkitty has more to say on the subject here, at the culmination of this thread.


The following is not the sound of a fat lady singing:

The House has voted to send the impeachment resolution to legislative purgatory committee.

All 166 votes in favor of opening up a House impeachment debate came from Republicans, apparently eager to paint Democrats as political creatures in a time of serious issues. Kucinich voted with his party, against his own measure.

And what "serious issues" might those be?

The ongoing war that was founded on lies and deception?

The continued degradation of our freedoms in the name of preserving them?

The plummeting dollar, driven into the toilet by this deficit-funded conquest?

The skyrocketing price of gasoline, conveniently timed to draw attention away from our oil-funded oligarchy?

These are, indeed, serious issues.

Why, then, should we not bring charges against those culpable?

This changes nothing that I've said in the last three days. Keep badgering your Congressmen; keep putting pressure on them all. Let them know that the actions of this man and his cronies cannot go unanswered.

free man, not a number, prisoner, number six, pennyfarthing

Never been much for "A is A".

scarfman* pointed me toward a thoughtful, informed, point-for-point analysis of Kucinich's 35 Articles of Impeachment. I'll cheerfully admit that I have more outrage than expertise in matters of Constitutional law, so it was refreshing to see someone really scrutinizing the legal validity of the bill in question. Certainly, no one in the Corporate Media has bothered to do so.

He categorizes them according to the following criteria:

Fair Cop (no reason why Democrats shouldn't vote for it), Complicit (Democrats supported it), Clinton-bait (involves the same kind of crimes Democrats voted NOT to impeach Bill Clinton for), Not a Crime (self-explanatory), and Just Plain Nuts (ditto).

Even this gentleman classes no less than seven of the Articles as a Fair Cop, with no qualifiers. I must, however, take issue with his category of Clinton-bait. He explains it further in his analysis of Article II, stating:

This article, on the other hand, is simply about Bush lying, plain and simple. The Clinton impeachment made it plain that the majority of Democrats still in office today believe lying, even under oath as a witness in court, is not an impeachable offense.

This is binary logic at its worst. It lacks proportion and nuance, hinging on a comparison of a straw man version of one case to a straw man of the other. If I may be permitted to repeat a crudity, it sees no difference between cum stains and blood stains.

It also asserts that no member of Congress should ever be permitted to change his or her mind, even after the passage of a decade. Perhaps, given so long to consider the high ground of their opponents' punitive morality, they, too, have come to see the light!

And perhaps they could even say that with a straight face.

*Thanks to scarfman for mentioning the Impeachment issue in today's Arthur, King of Time and Space!